welcome to nhk world "newsline," i'm gene otani in tokyo. here is a look at some of the stories we're following at this hour. the leader of ukraine's southern region vows to strengthen ties with russia as supporters and opponents of the interim government clash in the country. politicians turn their attention to improving education for children in rural areas at the national people's congress. we have the latest from beijing. and a senior u.s. official
has urged china to provide more openness about its defense capabilities and intentions after beijing increased annual defense spending by more than 12%. people in ukraine are divided over their country's future. supporters and opponents of the interim government scuffled during demonstrations in an eastern city and the leader of the southern region of crimea is promising more cooperation with russia. >> translator: we will maintain our strong ties with russia. >> ethic russians make up a majority of the people in crimea, the road leading to an airport near zef stoep ol has been blocked by trucks. zef soapal is home to the black sea fleet n. the eastern city of donetsk, skirmishes broke out between the government and those
favoring closer ties with russia. donetsk is the support base of ousted president victorian co-vish. state-run media in russia report the government of crimea has brought forward a referendum of their future. people vote on march 16. vice prime minister say it is referendum will ask if they want to split from ukraine and if they want to join the russian federation. lawmakers in the united states are considering punitive measures against russia's leaders and ways to bolsters to interim ukrainian leadership. they're planning to begin resolutirea draft resolution saying they violate the united nations charter and urges leaders to withdraw troops from crimea. lawmakers are looking for other
ways to turn up the heat. the draft resolution recommends the u.s. government suspend new visas for senior russian officials. it calls for financial and trade sanctions on banks and commercial institutions with links to russia's government. members of the house are also considering economic aid for ukraine. senior u.s. defense department officials will send military jets to countries in the baltic region around ukraine. they want to help american allies boost their defense capabilities. defense secretary chuck hagel discussed the plan with members of the senate armed services committee. >> the defense department is pursuing measures to support our allies including stepping up joint training through our aviation detachment in poland. >> four f 15 military jets are already in the region as part of the missions over the baltic states of lithuania, estonia and latvia. six more jets will be sent to a
base in lithuania. u.s. leaders have suspended military talks with russia. more than 3,000 delegates from across china are discussing ways to move the country forward. at the opening of the national people's congress premier lee queue chan announced plans to tackle pollution and narrow the gap between rich and poor. they are all part of president xi jinping and his administration's goal to maintain long-term stability. we've been bringing you extensive coverage this week in our series, china, road to reform. let's go live to nhk world's raja prad dan in beijing. >> reporter: hi, gene, on the second day of the ngc, prime minister low gee way said people shouldn't fix on an economic growth rate of 7.5%. he indicated economic growth
could be lower than last year. in a press conference minister lo said it would be acceptable if the economy grew by 7.2 or 7.3%. it's very different from past years when the chinese economy expanded by double digits. the government really wants to focus on the quality of growth over speed. one of the consequences of china's rapid development is a widening wealth gap. in the past year president shooe and his administration has introduced measures trying to narrow it, education in china's rural areas is one of the areas being addressed. but as we found out, some measures have made it more difficult for children to get to class. >> reporter: this is the home to malaysia's 400 people, deep in the mountains of kansu province, it's a two-hour drive to the nearest town. the village used to have its own
elementary school. there were 30 children studying there. last year it was shut down. the kids now travel to another school 2.5 kilometers away along mountainous roads. >> translator: it takes me over an hour to get to school. >> it's hard for little ones to travel so far, especially in the rain or cold weather. >> reporter: in many rural areas there are too few students and not enough qualified teachers and education funds have dropped. so in 2001 the government amalgamated schools to raise the quality of education. in the ten years since then, the number of elementary schools in rural areas dropped by a half. many children live in villages that are far from the nearest
school. 7-year-old tan tinge's family moved away from the farm and into town. it was out of the question for her to make the long journey from her village through the mountains all on her own. using what little savings they had, they rented a room in a converted barn. ting loved studying. because there is no desk, she does her homework on her bed. >> reporter: ting's father is disabled and the family has no income. they have had to scrape by, living off the wheat they grew last year. they've also borrowed money from
relatives. ting's parents asked the village for assistance, but it didn't have the finances to help. eventually her school referred them to an ngo group that provide support to help poor children go to school using donations from around the country, but first they have to pass an interview. >> translator: so you moved to town for your daughter? >> translator: yes. she is too small to walk from our mountain village on her own. >> reporter: after hearing about their situation, the ngo group agrees to offer them a grant. they will get about $160 a year until ting finishes her mandatory education in eight years' time. >> translator: my child will be better off in the future if she
goes to school. i want her to study until she graduates from elementary school. >> translator: i have seen so many cases like this, families who are in difficulty with parents who are sick, just like ting's. every year we interview 3,000 to 4,000 poor families. >> reporter: for many farming families in poor areas, education is seen as the only way to escape their poverty. for the children it could be the lifeline for their future. >> reporter: kun need dough joins me now. we saw how children in rural areas are having trouble even get together school. what is the government planning to do to address that? >> it's working to balance
outcome pullsry education across the country. a government activity report released on wednesday shows beijing is allocating more money on education to rural districts. those areas have seen an increasing number of children who drop out of elementary and middle schools. the administration has been reviewing its policy to amalgamate schools. it plans to reopen schools and districts that have more children. >> reporter: will the gap between the cities and the rural areas be narrowed? >> that's what the government certainly wants to achieve through these policies. the wealth gap is one of the main talking points at this year's mpc. but realistically a lot more needs to be done. reopening schools will also take time because they need to retrain teachers and repair facilities or even build them from scratch. as you saw in my report, there are ngos in china that are working to fill the gaps where the government fell short. an expert on rural education who
i spoke to stresses the importance of activities for now. >> reporter: ngos have been supporting teachers, tutoring and donating textbooks and their grassroots activities are helping to solve issues ignored by the government. the gap between cities in rural areas cannot be eliminated immediately, but it could be'sed if the government and ngos work together. >> the bottom line is the government is still a long way from achieving a very ambitious goal, and in the meantime it's the ngos tackling the issues head on. >> reporter: be sure to join us for the conclusion of our series "china: road to reform." we'll get an expert's take on the major announcements made this year and the challenges ahead. for me that's all from now and the team in beijing. i'll hand it back to you in
tokyo, gene. >> raja pradhan in beijing. a nation of 1.3 million. a wealth of views, perspectives and problems. chinese leaders examine the issues at their annual congress. president xi jinping faces a long list of challenges. find out how he plans to tackle them. don't miss our special coverage, "china: road to reform" at these times right here on "newsline." a senior u.s. official has called on china to address international concerns about this year's defense budget which is more than 12% larger than last year's. leaders in beijing submitted this year's draft budget to the npc on wednesday. defense spending has been increased to more than $130 billion. there's been double digit growth
almost every year since 1989. >> we continue to carefully monitor china's military developments and encourage china to exhibit greater transparency with respect to its capabilities. >> she also expressed concern in november when china set up an air defense identification zone over the east china sea with no prior notice. china doesn't offer a breakdown on its budget. furthermore, analysts believe the spending plan does not include research and development costs or foreign purchases of defense equipment. south korean foreign minister yun byung-se has made use of japan's handling of the so-called comfort women issue. >> it is a universal civil rights issue, an unresolved problem still haunting us today.
>> he was speaking before the human rights council. he criticized japan's political leaders saying they're attempting to reexamine the background of a 1993 statement. he added a high-ranking government official recently labeled the comfort women issue a fabrication. she said such an attitude is an affront to humanity and disregards history. the statement june mentioned by yohei kono. kono said many women were made to serve against their will in brothels operated by the japanese military in world war ii. the statement said in addition to japanese women those from the korean peninsula accounted for a large part. it expressed an apology and remorse. japanese chief cabinet secretary yoshihide suga said it is regreltable.
>> translator: prime minister shinzo abe and his government feel a deep pain for the people who had such a harsh indescribable experience, exactly the same as former leaders. suga said the 20th century was a time in which women's rights were violated and that the abe administration hopes to build a peaceful world without war in the 21st century. the top spokesperson also said japan will express its position and counter the criticism before the same u.n. council later on thursday. market players are watching moves in japan's public pension fund. it's one of the world's largest, managing more than $1.2 trillion in assets. now the fund may be ready for riskier investments. a panel of experts for japan's welfare ministries says the
government pension investment fund or gpif should diversify its portfolio. it currently invests more than 50% of assets in government bonds and other domestic securities. the expert said the gpif should consider a wider range of options such as real estate investment trusts. they say investing in government bonds may not be safe at a time when the japanese economy is recovering from inflation to moderate deflation. here is how major indices are doing at this hour. london's ftse up by .2%. the dax in frankfurt gaining by .25%. the cac 40 in paris up by a little bit more than .5%. investors is looking to see if the central bank will consider easing monetary policy. news about the gpif helped push
tokyo's nikkei to a level not seen since late january. investors were hopeful the fund may boost its holdings of japanese shares. india's main jubench market jumd by 1% since the last quarter of 2013. the dollar rose to a two-week high against the yen. dollar-yen currently changing hands at 102.63-66. traders are selling safer assets on the back of improved risk appetite. the yen is also weaker against the australian dollar. this came after it got a boost from retail sales, data from january came in stronger than consensus. euro dollar trading at a tight range ahead of the pcb policy meeting. quoted 1.3743-3744.
japan's chief negotiator for the free trade talks under the transpacific partnership made with south korea's trade representative in tokyo. they discussed the future outlook for the tpp. leaders in seoul are now considering joining the negotiations. koji toek key met the south korean trade minister. sued hoke co-explained that it is difficult to forecast when a broad agreement would be reac d reached. >> translator: south korea is showing interest and a willingness to join the tpp negotiations. i think it's a good thing for japan. >> he added that the final goal is that all nations across the asia pacific region will join the free trade pact. it will soon be three years
since the nuclear accident in fukushima. its impact is not limited to japan. a u.s. firm producing enriched uranium has filed for bankruptcy. the firm usec based in maryland state makes the nuclear fuel for power plants. they filed for protection under chapter 11. they say financial difficulties resulted in a plunge for the price of enriched uranium. many nuclear plants in japan and germany were taken off-line after the 2011 accident at the fukushima daiichi plant. toshiba invested in usec. it was part of a project to build a comprehensive system from the nuclear power business. that means from supplying the fuel to the construction of power plants. executives at the u.s. social news and entertainment company buzz feed are expanding
their business globally. they plan to launch an office in tokyo. the ceo announced the feed. it gathered images for sharing on facebook and twitter. it now boasts 130 million users per month worldwide. he has already launched sites in london and paris. the company's main source of revenue is add very torl consulting or advertising in the form of articles. officials say this supports their effort to offer high quality journalism along with popular entertainment videos. here are the latest market figures.
israeli navy command does have intercepted a ship in the red sea carrying a carb of advanced rockets. military officials suspect the rockets came from iran and were headed for the gaza strip. officials say special forces seized the ship off the coast of sudan about 1500 kilometers from israel. the missiles they found on board had a range of around 200 kilometers. the ship left from iran and was headed towards sudan. israeli leaders suspect the rockets were destined for gaza. they say the iranians may have been planning to smuggle them
over land. >> while iran is conducting their talks smiling to the international community, it continues to arm terrorist groups, continues to perpetrate terrorism around the world. >> the islamist militant group hamas controls gaza. its leaders denoid any voft. people in venezuela marked the anniversary of the death of president hugo chavez. some took to the streets to krit zit size the man who replaced him. they were among those who attended a ceremony in caracas. venezuela president nicholas madura praised him as a symbol of south american unity. he was continued to continue its predecessor's policies. many venezuelans are unhappen in what they say are failed
economic policies. the protesters staged repeated rallies over the last three weeks. local media says 19 people have been killed. opposition leaders want international officials to interview. members of maduro's administration have rejected their demands. seasonal bush fires in sam mat dhra is forcing indonesians to wear their masks. our meteorologist robert speta has more on this. >> what we are seeing right now is very dry conditions and about 50 fires currently burning across much of indonesia. on the satellite imagery you can see here is just clear skies. this is via the infrared. you get a feel for the upper level clouds. let's zoom in on it. what you see right now is the invisible imagery. this is what you actually see from space. look right here, these areas in the brown, that is the smoke and haze we are talking about. not just indonesia but some is drifting off towards the northeast in parts of malaysia and singapore, you're starting
to look at your aqis, they go downhill to almost unhealthy levels out here. last year we had a very similar situation, not quite that bad yet. we're already seeing these fires still burning. this is taken on thursday, one of the many fires continuing to burn. it's not just the haze and smoke that is a problem, but nearly 30 families had to be evacuated and we are still talking about the haze and the smoke out here. furthermore very unhealthy here in indonesia. what we are going to be seeing into the forecast, unfortunately is still dry conditions. the good news is the northwesterly winds will continue to prevail. at least for the time being pushing a lot of snow back down there towards the south. farther towards the north let's see what's going on in southeastern china. we are seeing rainfall out here. some areas could see 30 to 50 millimeters into the next 24 hours. also looking at the threat of haze in northeastern china due to its high pressure working back in yet again. across the japan, the pacific
coast of japan, sunny skies in your forecast. temperatures will be chilly. we have northwesterly winds coming in out of siberia, winds gusting up to 126 kilometers per hour. saw some images i'll show you later on of what is going on in western parts of hokkaido, white-out conditions people are dealing with. not completely uncommon for this part of japan but definitely not something you want to see every day. seoul at 5, some sunny weather for you, over towards beijing looking at the clear skies at the least. as we take a look towards europe, one storm after another in the north. northern parts of the british isles, looking at gusty winds also towards the scandinavian peninsula. towards the south high pressure is working its way in. that is good news, spain, while just a few days ago we were talking about the entire country under high wind advisories.
one storm system after another that came through caused rather harsh damage near the immediate coastal areas. at least now sunnier weather, much calmer weather, still across the balkan peninsula, a few thunderstorms continue to erupt here, that's going to work its way east while weakening towards turkey bringing heavy rain showers and isolated strong to psiy severe thunderstorms. athens still looking at a 16 for your high. rain showers in your forecast. across the americas, north, freezing rain is a major threat across montana over towards the dakotas and western great lakes. the new storm system continuing to push through. if you have travel plans along the border, be careful with that. also southeastern portions of the americas, southern georgia and northern florida, be ready for the threat of hail here and possibly a tornado or two on your thursday. here is the extended forecast.
>> hello, and welcome to "france " broadcasting live from paris. we will be together for the next hour. the eu freezes the assets of ousted ukrainian president yanukovich and 17 other officials, including his son, former prime minister and minister.nd justice the autonomous region of crimea plans to vote on whether to break away from ukraine to join russia. a referendum is scheduled on the 16th of march. the kremlin says that vladimir putin is discussing the issue with his security